Pubs are underfilling pints of beer

Beer drinkers are being short-changed by up to 25p a pint because landlords don’t fill glasses to the brim.

Too much head? 5% of a pint is the legal limit (Flickr pic by waitscm)

Too much head? 5% of a pint is the legal limit (Flickr pic by waitscm)

Sunday Mirror investigators visited 25 pubs up and down the country and found more than two-thirds were serving under-filled pints of beer. Three pints served ­contained illegally small amounts of drink, with one containing just 92.4 per cent of a pint of lager.

The 1985 Weights and Measures Act says a pint of beer should be exactly a pint – 20 fluid ounces or 568ml. But industry guidelines agree a pint of beer can be 95 per cent liquid and five per cent head. Anything under that could lead to the owner being prosecuted.

The survey, carried out with Trading Standards officers, comes amid reports that struggling landlords are under pressure from pub chains to raise profits by deliberately under-filling glasses.

The Sunday Mirror admits to finding no evidence of bar staff deliberately pouring too little, but pub owners can be prosecuted if they sell pints under 95% full.

Last week the GMB union (Britain’s General Union) said the chains which own many pubs throughout the country were setting unrealistic rents based on a near 100 per return or “yield” from beer in barrels. They said this could be achieved only by serving less beer.

Mirror journalists bought two pints each in chain pubs in Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, London and Cardiff.

At Bar Luga in Newcastle one of the pints (Estrella lager, £3.50) was 7.6% short, leaving drinkers 26p out of pocket.

At Yates’s in Harrow, West ­London, one £2.69 pint of Foster’s was 5.8% short of a full pint, short-changing the customer by 15p.

In Liverpool city centre one pint (Green King IPA, £1.75) at JD Wetherspoon’s The Fall Well was under-filled by 5.5%, or 9p.

At the other end of the scale, all the bars they checked in Birmingham city centre served 100 per cent measures while a £3.10 pint of Amstel lager at JD Wetherspoon’s Moon on the Hill in Harrow was 3 per cent over-filled. Good people of Harrow, start frequenting this pub now!

Oliver Vaulkhird, 40, owner of ­Newcastle’s Bar Luga, said: “We’re not trying to cut corners, pints look better with a head. But if people ask for it to be topped then it’s fine and we’d do that.”

But Ash Shah of Harrow trading standards said: “If you pay for a pint you deserve a pint. If you translated these shortfalls to filling your car with petrol, there would be a public outcry.”

The Campaign for Real Ale’s Jonathan Mail said: “There is a misguided view among some pub bosses that it is acceptable to serve pints that are only 95 per cent full. This is wrong and Camra is calling on the Government to clarify the law so it is clear that a pint five per cent short is not acceptable.”

Mine’s a pint (97% beer, 3% head).

Where do you stand on the issue? Are you bothered by a large head or do you think this is nitpicking in the extreme? Have your say below.

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One Comment on “Pubs are underfilling pints of beer”

  1. I think that some breweries propagate the idea that pints look good with a head merely to serve their own bottom line. London beers like Young’s Ordinary and Fuller’s London Pride would never have been served with any real head at all 25 years ago. But look at them now in the adverts – nice creamy head that stays. And remember a head is mainly air.

    It’s right that the Mirror is drawing attention to this. Given the price of beer now the monetary shortfall becomes significant. The publicans wouldn’t like it if you tendered 95% of the price of a pint when you buy one.


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